Trade unions demand wider ratification of revised European Social Charter
Although the Slovakian Confederation of Trade Unions supports the government’s decision to ratify the revised European Social Charter, it demands wider ratification of the charter by proposing to extend the scope of the ratification to cover a number of additional articles. The Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family will assess the trade unions’ proposal and the feasibility of wider ratification, and will present a new proposal for tripartite discussion in June 2008.
The Slovakian government, in its Programme Declaration (SK0609019I), committed to reviewing the feasibility of ratification of the revised European Social Charter. The Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family (Ministerstvo práce, sociálnych vecí a rodiny Slovenskej republiky, MPSVR SR) prepared a proposal for ratifying the charter, and submitted it for discussion at the tripartite Economic and Social Council (Hospodárska a sociálna rada, HSR). The Slovakian Confederation of Trade Unions (Konfederácia odborových zväzov Slovenskej republiky, KOZ SR) welcomed the ratification of the European Social Charter, but it did not agree with the proposed scope of its ratification. KOZ SR representatives demanded that the ratification proposal of the revised charter be withdrawn from the agenda of the HSR meeting in December 2007, suggesting that the confederation would review options for ratification of the charter in a wider context. MPSVR SR accepted the trade unions’ request.
Trade union demands
KOZ SR prepared an analysis of the revised charter’s provisions and proposed to extend the ratification proposal by including another 10 articles from the charter. Among these articles are:
- Article 24 – the right to protection in cases of termination of employment;
- Article 25 – the right of workers to the protection of their claims in the event of insolvency of their employer;
- Article 27 – the right of workers with family responsibilities to equal opportunities and equal treatment;
- Article 28 – the right of workers’ representatives to protection in the undertaking and facilities to be accorded to them;
- Article 29 – the right to information and consultation in collective redundancy procedures.
The trade unions also wished to discuss the ratification of the revised charter with an extended group of experts. In view of this, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, FES) in Slovakia organised a public discussion forum on the ratification of the charter on 4 March 2008. The Vice-president of KOZ SR, Vladimír Mojš, emphasised the trade unions’ views and presented arguments supporting a more extensive ratification of the revised charter, while a representative from MPSVR SR, Juraj Džupa, expressed the ministry’s opinion on the matter. Mr Džupa highlighted that Slovakia ratified 72 out of the total number of original charter’s provisions in 1998.
In 1999, Slovakia also signed the revised social charter, which it has not ratified up until now. So far, MPSVR SR does not propose to ratify Articles 26–31, as the implementation of these articles could demand higher financial resources from the state budget. Nevertheless, Mr Džupa stated that MPSVR SR has agreed to further examine the provisions of the revised charter, including the recommendations proposed by KOZ SR, in order to assess the feasibility of ratification of extended provisions contained in the charter. Slovakia’s representative at the Council of Europe, Viliam Figusch, highlighted the activities of the council. He especially targeted the role of the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), which supervises the implementation of provisions of the revised social charter by countries which have ratified it.
The proposal of KOZ SR to extend the scope of the ratification of the revised social charter in Slovakia corresponds to a wide extent with existing national legislation. Such legislation includes mainly the provisions of the new Labour Code – Act No. 311/2002 (SK0206101N), including its latest amendment which took effect on 1 September 2007 (SK0702059I). The Labour Code assures the rights of workers, which are also included in the abovementioned Articles 24, 25, 27 and 29 of the social charter. The amended Labour Code allows for the better protection of employee representatives in line with Article 28 of the social charter. The ratification of other provisions of the revised social charter proposed by KOZ SR is seconded by Act No. 5/2004 on employment services, Act No. 365/2004 on antidiscrimination and Act No. 280/2002 on parental allowance. According to available information, it is expected that the revised proposal of the charter’s ratification will be presented by MPSVR SR in June 2008.
Ludovít Cziria, Institute for Labour and Family Research